The clock hasn’t quite struck midnight on this Cinderella

by Ryan Snyder

Cinderella liked it hot and wet inside the Millennium Center last Wednesday. (photo by Ryan Snyder) Tom Keifer will be thefirst to tell you that youreally don’t know whatyou got ’til it’s gone. Priorto 1991, the front man forthe band Cinderella andthe rest of his mates wereliving the hard and fastlife expected in the glammetal scene. The teasedtheir hair 12 inches high,decked themselves out inleather and chiffon, wrotea lot of hyperbolic lyrics to expand upon theirlook-cool-and-get-laid modus operandi andessentially took their talentsfor granted. Then, just as theband had unwittingly bracedthemselves for the watershedgrunge movement with arguablytheir best record, 1991’sHeartbreak Station, Keifer’svoice was gone.Comeback attempts wouldtranspire over years, turninginto decades. Their 2006 tourin support of Poison was attimes disastrous due to Keifer’sdilapidated vocal chords, compellingthe band into hiatus.Their Wednesday night showat the Millennium Center,however, painted a decidedlydifferent picture.If this were Cinderella circaLong Cold Winter, it mighthave been appropriate to writea tawdry, trite review ledealong the lines of “while thestorm raged outside, the party ragedinside.” Playing in front of a crowdof nearly 1,000, Cinderella lookedto have momentarily returned to their luridpre-arena days of old. The Millennium Centerwas oppressively hot, thanks in part to thesweatbox conditions created by the downpouroutside, and the sound was mediocre, presumablydue to the cascade of water pouring in onstage. Or might have been just because theywere playing at the Millennium Center. In anyevent, there was a general (if morbidly hopeful)feeling that Keifer would grab the micand go down ‘ la Russell Hammond in AlmostFamous. (Un?)fortunately, Keifer survived thenight, despite a general look of discomfort thatpersisted the entire evening.Excessively hot mic and perilous conditionsaside, Keifer’s vocal adjustments duringthe band’s hiatus appeared to have paid off.He consistently nailed his signature vibratoon songs like opener “Second Wind” and“Heartbreak Station,” though he seems tohave sacrificed his ability to manage his vocalintensity in the course of mastering his newsinging style. His pitch and volume waveredlittle throughout the night and when pairedwith the muddled sound from the back of theroom, hits like “Somebody Save Me” weren’tas easily identifiable.The band still comprises four-fifths of thelineup that was together during their heyday,which is a feat unto itself, so it was a safeassumption that they were going to soundtight musically. Keifer and guitarist Jeff LaBarwere in sync throughout the show, eschewingtheir stage antics of 20 years ago for a lotmore subtlety, intent instead upon displayingthe technical prowess for which they were solong overlooked. LaBar conceded lead often,most memorably to the stony intro for “FallingApart at the Seams/Bad Seamstress Blues.”Keifer is still half-assed bluesman, but has alot of soul for a supposedly washed-up glamgod.That said, it’s pretty easy to look back ata band like Cinderella with an air of smugcondescension. The edgy, thrill-seeking genusof rock of bands like Cinderella has no roomfor skepticism, especially since the hair-metalera is one for which only a select few can benostalgic, but Cinderella — Keifer especially— deserve sincere praise for their efforts toreturn to form. Rock music has never beenabout restraint, and bands like Cinderella cameto embody the lack thereof much in the sameway Reganites came to symbolize wantonconsumerism. When given that perspective,you realize that Cinderella is a band thatembraced a certain style and a certain soundand never gave it up, an extravagant attitudepaired with larger-than-life lyrics, amplifiedthrough the pickups of bluesy, gritty rock. Sodon’t be afraid to rip your jeans, tease yourhair and revel in the garish exhibition that isthe most base of real rock ‘n roll.